Category Archives: medical librarians

The energy of a good conference

Last week I attended UNYOC. I hadn’t been to anything substantial (discounting 1 day meetings) since last October. The speakers were good. Got in some good discussions with the vendors, the venue was pleasant, and the company was great.

I was particularly intrigued by the presentation on the Horizon Project.

New source of medical images

The Wellcome Trust has made their collection of medical images available for use under a Creative Commons license. The Wellcome-images collection is huge. I’ve been poking around on their site and having a good old time.

I rather like this one. It is, however, unclear to me how syphilis and the lithograph relate. The image would seem to indicate that you can contract syphilis from a swimming pool (last time I checked, that’s not the case). More likely is the far more subtle implication of being cautious of picking up strange people in social settings for some sort of illicit affair.

In any case, I think this is a great lithograph.

NLM backs down on subheadings

This tech bulletin came out yesterday. Sometime last year there had been a move on NLM’s part to pare down the subheadings in the MeSH vocabulary. Their self-stated goal was “to make the use of qualifiers easier for the searching public,” who use PubMed. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time and it still doesn’t. They’ve backed down on this so it’s a moot point.

However, my educated guess is that the searching public wouldn’t know a MeSH term much less a subheading if it walked up and punched them in their collective faces.

Librarians and the people they train or instruct search with the MeSH. I would bet money that most non-medical users are doing keyword searches like they do in Google. The proposed list of changes would have made our jobs harder and I don’t think they would have helped the public much. Glad to see sanity has prevailed.

New Wiki

Nice to see a wiki started up for academic medical librarians who serve as liaisons to department.

You can tell you’re a geek when

You get all excited about new tweaks to PubMed’s searching interface. Over the last couple of years, I’ve gradually come to appreciate PubMed more and more. However, it’s always had its limitations–chief among them that you can’t pick more than one limit in a given category without some really cumbersome searches. It’s also been deficient in the limit choice area. Well, now looks like that’s going to be a thing of the past.

If they would only fix that pesky automatic explode feature, I’d be a very happy camper.

Librarian pet peeves

Well, one of them anyway.
Like most of my fellow librarians, I am on far too many library listservs. It’s insane the amount of e-mail I get on my work account; it truly is. However, it’s part of the job and you learn to deal with it.

What totally baffles me are the perennial messages from people either trying to unsubscribe from a list–sent to the list, mind you, with a “Please take me off this list”–or who send a message like how do I unsubscribe from this list?” Okay, well, here is my little rant:

  1. These are fairly standard lists and you managed to subscribe on your own. They all have you sending the commands to a different address than the ones you send the posts too.
  2. Remember seeing the instruction e-mail that is always e-mailed when you sent in your request the first time? Save it in an e-mail folder and call it up when you need it.
  3. You’re a librarian–someone who specializes in information–you can’t Google “unsubscribe name-of-list” and call it a day?


Had my first medical emergency reference question this afternoon. Not a “I have a paper due tomorrow and I haven’t started it till just now” emergency question, but an honest-to-goodness, “I have a patient on the table and I need this now” emergency question.

It’s all handled and my colleague helped me. Hopefully, we got the doctor what he needed, but I know two things:

  1. I could never be an Informationist. I have all the respect in the world for them, but it’s not for me. I feel totally drained as it is.
  2. Librarianship is cool. Seriously, for all those clueless people out there who seem to think I read all day while seated in a leather club chair and work in an ivy-covered edifice, this one’s for you. Whether or not the patient is going to be okay, I don’t know and that troubles me. But it wasn’t a bar bet. It wasn’t for a truly academic exercise.This man needed information for a life threatening situation. I helped to find it. How cool is that?